How to Cut Time Spent Managing Restaurant Staff by 95%

By: Ryan Gromfin

5 Minute Read

Nov 18, 2016

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Managing Restaurant Employees

If you would rather be spending time putting more butts in seats than putting out fires that your restaurant employees should have handled, answering questions they should know the answer to, or generally asking yourself why you're even paying your employees when you're basically doing their job for them, then you are going to love this post.

The biggest gripe I hear from restaurant owners is that they just don’t have enough time. I often hear statements like, “I know what I need to do; I just don’t have the time.” Often, that's because they are spending too much time managing restaurant employees who are not pulling their weight.

While employees are a huge part of any restaurant, they don't need to be a huge part of your day as a restaurant owner.

I believe this is because employees are often thought of as a liability, expense. Instead, they should be thought of more as assets. Restaurant employees are investments that go up in value over time. One of the best things about owning appreciating assets is that they make you money when you are not working. In fact, from this point forward, I will not refer to employees as anything other than talent, because that is what they are.

Here are the three steps.

1. Adopt an investment mentality when it comes your talent.

A dear friend and mentor of mine Doug Hansen, who works directly with Fortune 500 CEOs says, “Train them to go and motivate them to stay.”

If you have ever felt like you don’t want to teach your talent everything because they are going to leave and go to your competition, your thinking about it all wrong. True, talent retention is one of the biggest challenges owners experience, but I often hear that this person left because they can make more at another job.

The reality is that money is one of the worst motivators and retention tools for staff. In fact, 89% of bosses think their staff left for more money, but only 12% of staff actually did, according to a recent Gallup study.

Instead, they stay when they they are learning, growing, and contributing to something bigger than they are.

2. Publish the rules to the game.

When I was a cook and our first order of the day came in, I would say out loud to my co-workers: "It's time to play restaurant." For whatever reason, when I said that, it worked. Butts were kicked into gear, a flip was switched in everyone's mind: they knew it was go-time.

Read More: 6 Time Management Strategies for Restaurateurs That Actually Work

However, you can't "play restaurant" unless you know the rules of the game. You need to know how to keep score, what's "against" the rules, and how to ultimately win. Think of any sport you play on a recreational level: any arguments with friends are usually about an interpretation of the rules. In our professional lives, too, we have referees who know the rules and keep the game fair.

Unfortunately, there are no rules in most restaurants, or at least if there are, they're not clear. In the eyes of your talent, the game then is never fair. When your talent has a clear path to promotion, raises, and growth, they will be much more motivated to take action. When they know the repercussions for breaking a rule, reprimanding is much easier and much more fair.

3. Provide feedback instantly and often.

As restaurant owners, we often think that our talent needs long sit-down “coaching sessions,” write-ups and formal group trainings. There is a place for all those activities but NOT in day-to-day management. These are the biggest time vampires when it comes to your staff.

You can correct negative behavior or motivate and encourage more positive behavior in 30 seconds to a minute using a simple 5-step process developed specifically for restaurant talent.

  • Step 1: Ask permission to have this quick conversation.
  • Step 2: Explain the behavior.
  • Step 3: Make it larger than just them (share the effects on the entire team).
  • Step 4: Ask them to provide a solution to the challenge (e.g., how they plan to fix a negative behavior or how they can continue even more with positive behavior).
  • Step 5: Thank them for the time.

Get Started with Toast Payroll and Team Management

Ultimately, the key to freeing up some time in your day, motivating your staff, and improving your restaurant culture is to providing top-notch training, being clear and intentional with your expectations and giving quick real-time feedback, as often as possible, instead of waiting for the perfect time to have long drawn-out conversations and meetings.

As the leading technology platform powering thousands of successful restaurants across the US, Toast's restaurant-specific payroll & team management platform helps our community save time each pay period, onboard new employees faster, protect their businesses, and do more for their teams. Learn more about the restaurant payroll process from beginning – collecting the necessary legal paperwork from staff – to end – storing payroll and tax related documents after conducting payroll in your restaurant.  

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